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'Madder than hell': WWII veteran's medals are stolen

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San Diego County sheriff’s detectives are looking for the suspect or suspects responsible for stealing several World War II medals from a veteran's home in Vista, Calif.

According to detectives, the war medals were stolen during a residential burglary, and they were the only item taken from the home.

The medals have no real monetary value, detectives said, but they do hold great sentimental value to the owner, a World War II Marine veteran who earned them while fighting in the war.

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The veteran – 88-year-old Clyde Kellogg – was wounded in combat and spent almost an entire year in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

Kellogg told NBC 7 that his medals, including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, mean everything to him. They remind him of his days as a soldier – and the friends he lost along the way.

Kellogg joined the Marines at age 17 and served in World War II.

He said that in his heart, he shares his Bronze Star medal of valor with a fellow Marine who was right there with him when a Japanese tank rolled over their foxhole in Guadacanal.

“My buddy was right there with me and I held him in my arms while he died. It ticked me off,” recalled Kellogg.

He later received a Purple Heart. Kellogg said it took him a year to recover from his wounds sustained in combat, including a shot through the throat that left him with only half a vocal cord.

For more than 60 years, Kellogg has cherished his military medals. Now, they’re gone and the former Marine is fired up about it.

“I was ready to fight [when they were stolen]. I was madder than hell,” said Kellogg. “Anyone who would take those didn’t earn them. What the hell are they going to do with them?"

Kellogg said the medals were taken straight from his wall. They were proudly displayed for years in a space right above his military dog tags.

On Friday, a fellow veteran who heard about the theft of Kellogg’s war medals brought him a surprise at home: a new set of medals to replace his originals.

Jack Harkins from the United Veterans Council visited Kellogg in Vista.

Kellogg said he couldn’t express how thankful he was for Harkins’ kind gesture. He said the replacement medals will fill a void he has felt since his medals were stolen.

“You don’t know how much I appreciate this,” Kellogg said. “I feel elated someone would step up and do something for somebody – replacing my medals.”

Harkins said he read an article about Kellogg’s medals being stolen and felt he had to do something to help because, as a Marine, he knows what it means to earn medals of valor.

“The honor that Americans have when their nation presents them with honor for their service is something that runs deep. That’s been true for all generations,” said Harkins.

In addition to the replacement medals, Harkins gave Kellogg a personal Marine pin to wear for his service engraved with the words, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.”

“Jack, you don’t know what this means to me,” Kellogg told Harkins at his home.

Kellogg said he will be keeping his new medals and pin at home, very much guarded.

Meanwhile, investigators will continue to search for Kellogg’s original prized possessions.

Detectives said both the burglary suspect(s) and Kellogg’s stolen medals are still outstanding. Officials are asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the persons responsible for the burglary. Anyone with information is asked to contact sheriff’s detective Lisa Jenkins at (760) 940-4907 or the Crime Stoppers tip line at (888) 580-8477.